Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Curfew imposed in Myanmar cities

A curfew has been imposed in two major cities in Myanmar, according to residents, after thousands of people protested against the country's military government.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew in the former capital Yangon and the second biggest city of Mandalay comes after peaceful pro-democracy demonstrations led by Buddhist monks.

Loudspeaker announcements in Yangon on Tuesday said that the city was now under direct control of Yangon's military commander for 60 days.

Residents in Yangon also said people were not being allowed to gather in groups of more than five.

Earlier in the day, police and troops were deployed around Yangon's Sule Pagoda after thousands of protesters led by the monks staged fresh protests.

"They are in full battle gear and they have shields and truncheons. Since two or three days, you could see they are rehearsing anti-riot formations," a Southeast Asian diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Government vehicles mounted with loudspeakers were reported to be cruising the streets of the city saying the clergy had been ordered not to take part in "secular affairs" and accusing certain elements of trying to instigate unrest.

The order cited a legal clause which would allow the protests "to be dispersed by military force".